#CheetahCubdate 5: A Jolly (Ball) Time

This #CheetahCubdate was written by cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier.
Two 9-week-old male cheetah cubs sit in their den on hay. The cub on the right appears to be hissing at the camera.

It’s been a jolly time for Amani and her two cubs over the last couple weeks! The family received some new enrichment and the cubs had their 9-week exam. It’s always a joy for us to have healthy, playful cubs!

We gave the cubs their first jolly ball last week. Jolly balls are durable balls that come in various sizes for animals to knock around and chase. The ball is still a little hard for the cubs to manipulate, so they do their best to move it and bat it around. We also placed a large, wooden spool in the yard. It sits on one of the flat sides and sort of acts like a shelf. The cubs are a little too small to get on top of it, but they seem to like it when we put jolly balls on it for them to knock off. Amani seems to be enjoying that, too!

The cubs are regularly eating meat now. Here you can see them eating their meat diet off a tray partially in the stall while Amani enjoys a frozen-thawed rabbit in the next stall over. The cubs are not yet allowed to have rabbits, but will be soon!

Lucky viewers of the Cheetah Cub Cam may catch the cubs wrestling or going after Amani’s tail. The best chance of seeing the family on the webcam is on colder days (Helpful tip: There’s a weather forecast on the Cheetah Cub Cam page to let you know the temperature). They seem to be in and out of the heated den more, which does have a webcam in it.

While the cubs are regularly eating meat now, they are still nursing too. They will likely continue to nurse for another month or so. Cheetah cubs typically nurse until they are around 4 months old.

A vet looks at a 9-week-old male cheetah cub's eyes. The vet, a female, is facing away from the camera and toward the cub. She has red hair and is wearing a mask. The cub is being held by an unidentifiable keeper who is wearing grey gardening gloves.
Last week the cubs had their 9-week-old exam. The vets listened to their lungs, checked their eyes and mouth (shown here), and did another blood draw.

Last week the cubs had their 9-week-old exam. This serves as a follow up for their 6-week-old exam, which we talked about in the last update. The cubs got a few more vaccines and vets listened to their lungs, checked their eyes and mouth and did another blood draw. Both cubs continue to look and sound great!

During their most recent weigh-in, the cubs weighed 10 pounds (4.88 kilograms and 4.59 kilograms). While this is big compared to our previous litters, it’s on track for litters of the same size. Cubs in smaller litters tend to be larger since they have less competition for resources.

A mother cheetah lays between her cubs in a grassy yard. The cub in front of her is laying parallel to her. The cub behind her is peeking his head above hers. All three cheetahs are facing the camera.

Stay tuned for our next #CheetahCubdate in the new year and be sure to cozy up with the Cheetah Cub Cam all season long.

Catch up on previous #CheetahCubdates here.